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EU Ministers 'Profoundly' Concerned Over Uzbekistan

The number of dead in the Andijon violence last year is still not known (AFP) BRUSSELS, May 15, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- EU foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels today, have expressed "profound concern" over the situation in Uzbekistan.

In a statement, they deplored the lack of an independent international inquiry into last year's events in Andijon.

The statement also condemned the crackdown on human rights activists and the expulsion of the UN's refugee agency last month. It says EU sanctions agreed to last November, including a freeze of political contacts and an arms embargo, remain in place.

EU measures against Uzbek authorities include suspending a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and enacting a visa ban on some officials.

Tashkent says 187 people -- mostly what officials described as Islamic terrorists or members of the security forces -- died when Uzbek forces opened fire to quell an uprising in Andijon on May 13, 2005. Human rights groups and witnesses say hundreds of mostly unarmed civilians may have been killed.

Uzbekistan, Russia, And The West

Uzbekistan, Russia, And The West

President Karimov (left) with Russian President Putin in July 2005 (epa)

BETWEEN EAST AND WEST: One of the ramifications of the May 2005 bloodshed in Andijon has been a souring of relations between Tashkent and the West, accompanied by a raproachment between Uzbekistan and Russia. Following sharp U.S. and European criticism of the Andijon crackdown, Uzbekistan kicked the United States out of the Karshi-Khanabad air base and began actively courting Moscow.
"Today, we are reaching an unprecedented level in our relationship," Uzbek President Islam Karimov said during a November 2005 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, at which the leaders signed a strategic-partnership agreement. "I understand and we all understand in Uzbekistan that it is unprecedented that Russia signs such a partnership agreement with Uzbekistan."


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THE COMPLETE STORY: A dedicated webpage bringing together all of RFE/RL's coverage of the events in Andijon, Uzbekistan, in May 2005 and their continuing repercussions.


For an annotated timeline of the Andijon events and their repercussions, click here.

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